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Stearns Trail Town 5K wins PRIDE award

McCreary County Judge-Executive Douglas Stephens, McCreary County Tourist Commission Executive Director Tara Chaney, PRIDE Program Director Jennifer Johnson and McCreary County Deputy Judge-Executive and PRIDE Coordinator Andrew Powell.

McCreary County Judge-Executive Douglas Stephens, McCreary County Tourist Commission Executive Director Tara Chaney, PRIDE Program Director Jennifer Johnson and McCreary County Deputy Judge-Executive and PRIDE Coordinator Andrew Powell.

McCreary County has been recognized for its campaign to raise awareness of its 200-plus miles of scenic trails.

The McCreary County Tourist Commission won the PRIDE Environmental Education Project of the Month Award for the 5K run/walk it held on May 31. The 5K raised more than $2,000 for new signage at the Stearns Trail Town Trailhead, which educates visitors about the county’s extensive trails. The new signage will direct visitors to the area’s natural features, such as Natural Arch.

The Stearns Trail Town Trailhead has an outdoor classroom shelter and information kiosk. It is located on the corner of Hwy. 92 West and Hwy. 1651, across from the Big South Fork Scenic Railway Depot.

“We’ve designed the trailhead to be a convenient place for our citizens and visitors to start exploring our vast trails,” said Tara Chaney, McCreary County Tourist Commission Executive Director.

“Tourists can visit Stearns to eat, shop and ride the train, and they can plan their outdoor activities at the trailhead,” Chaney explained. “Getting healthy is an important theme in our community now, and the trailhead has information that local folks can use to get moving on the trails.”

“We commend McCreary County for this environmental education initiative,” said PRIDE’s Jennifer Johnson, who surprised Chaney with the award on Oct. 24. “The trailhead and its outdoor classroom shelter are great tools for educating people about this area’s incredible natural attractions. People are more likely to hike to Yahoo Falls if they can get directions easily.”

“The 5K was a creative way to raise money for the trailhead project because it gave people a chance to enjoy the great outdoors,” Johnson added. “Many local groups worked together to make the 5K a success, and we thank them all.”

Chaney also thanked the many organizations that have assisted McCreary County Tourist Commission with the Stearns Trail Town project. They include the McCreary County Fiscal Court, McCreary County Health Department, Get Healthy McCreary County, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Daniel Boone National Forest, TOUR SEKY and PRIDE. In addition, the McCreary County Rescue Squad and McCreary County Sheriff’s Department helped with the 5K.

McCreary County is developing the Stearns Trail Town Trailhead as part of the Kentucky Trail Town program, which encourages communities to connect the dots for travelers and guide them to trails, food, lodging, campgrounds, museums, entertainment and other services. When the Stearns Trail Town finishes the state’s certification process soon, the state will help promote and market it.

“As time and money allows, we will be adding landscaping to the shelter and additional signage depicting our natural environment in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and Daniel Boone National Forest,” Chaney said. “We also plan to add a butterfly garden and a native Kentucky species garden with educational signage, as well as a recycling bin.”

Follow the Stearns Trail Town project online at www.facebook.com/StearnsKentuckyTrailTown.

The PRIDE Environmental Education Project of the Month Award rewards creative, effective ways of promoting environmental awareness and stewardship. PRIDE presents one award each month to an education project within the 42 counties of southern and eastern Kentucky.

Follow PRIDE online at www.facebook.com/EasternKentuckyPRIDE.

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